A.M. Stryker Strikes Stout’s Stage

Annalise MarkTravis Collins, or A.M. Stryker, was the opener for the folk music themed Thursday night out last night with Blue Devil Productions. Travis is a familiar face here on campus, as he is the bass player of the band We are the Willows, who were here back in 2014. I had a chance to sit down with Travis before the show to get to know him and his music.

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Travis has been playing music for 20 years, spending a predominate amount of time playing with We are the Willows and running a record label, Homestead Records. The side project of A.M. Stryker began after We are the Willows put out their most recent record. Travis had some of his own ideas “kicking around” in his head and decided to make an album.

A.M. Stryker’s music style is inspired by the guitarist, John Fahey. Travis comments, “I’m a big fan of John Fahey, I don’t know if you know who that is… He’s sort of like an Americana, steal instrumental guitar player.” Travis continues, “I lived overseas for a while and the four records I brought were his, so I just dug into his picking style. I wrote a lot of instrumental stuff and then it kind of turned into the songs that are on my first record.” Travis was studying literature in Dublin while simultaneously infusing his music with inspirations of his surroundings, along with Fahey.

Travis comments, “That was the start of the project and it just became something else entirely. It was going to be some instrumental stuff, some instrumental stuff paired with writing and then it ended up being songs.”

Travis talks about his music in comparison to We are the Willows. “My stuff is fun to play, but it’s a whole other animal,” says Travis. “Not playing with a full band, its playing things that are way more personal.” He continues, “It’s like playing tennis as opposed to playing baseball or a team sport. You get out on the field in a team and you’re like ‘Alright, if I mess up or if something happens to me, not everyone will notice. It’s not all on me and not quite all about my skill’, but with tennis it’s like, if you mess up it’s all on you. It’s not so much about messing up either- you always mess up, it doesn’t matter. It’s more so of the personal aspect of it. It’s just you, it’s your life that you’re putting out there.”

Travis writes his music about things going on in his life, giving it a purpose for him. He comments, “Music that is just there and doesn’t serve a purpose for anyone or the artist themselves… you can tell. It’s like, ‘what is this?’ Incorporating his life’s moments into his music gives him a way to write about things happening in his life, giving a reason for what he makes.

A.M. Stryker makes its way around Minneapolis playing shows. One of Travis’ favorite things is getting inspired by other artists in runs into while on tour with especially We are the Willows.

Okay so I have to ask, the big current debate is- duck duck gray duck or duck duck goose?  

Travis: “Oh, duck duck gray duck.”

Me: “Everyone from Wisconsin that I talk to here always says goose.”

Travis: “It’s not even a question at all. It’s gray duck.”

Now that everyone can sleep better knowing the true answer to the childhood riddle is gray duck, Travis extends his gratitude for playing at UW-Stout and looks forward to putting out new music.

The opening band, Harbor and Home, wasn’t available for an interview, but we got some great photos.

Keep on rockin’ Stout!

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JACKAL: This show was insane

Annalise MarkUsually BDP’s Thursday Night Out Concert located in the Memorial Student Center, Terrace. However, this week we amped up the venue, lights, and volume; taking the massive EDM show to the Great Hall in honor of UW-Stout’s 125th celebration.

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Headliner JACKAL with opener MadRushin, took on a crowd of about 450 students who were just as excited to be there as the DJs were to perform.

This show was insane.

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Band Interview: Frankie Teardrop  

Annalise MarkThe Minneapolis-based rock and roll band Frankie Teardrop, whose music is infused with sounds of pop; includes guitar player Dan, Jack on the bass; Connor on the drums, and front man Jordan. The band performed at UW-Stout last night at the Terrace in the Memorial Student Center as the headliner of this week’s Thursday Night Music Series, brought to campus by Blue Devil Productions.

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Frankie Teardrop has been playing shows for about two years now. Jordan comments, “I can’t believe it sometimes. It’s sort of a long time to do a thing like this. It’s really fun and we do it because it’s fun.” Jordan admits that it can be hard to make a living as a musician, but says he and his bandmates “play for the love of the game, ya know.”

The guys reminisced on how they all ended up together. Jordan explains, “Sometimes it’s me- it started just as me and then these guys joined.” Jordan continues, “Then there was another drummer, and we’ve had a couple different drummers, [so] Connor’s new to the band.”

Jordan describes Frankie Teardrop as a “fluid identity,” as if all four band members morph into one. At this point, Connor jumps in and remembers his first memories of Frankie Teardrop, “I saw them right out of college and I fell in love.” Connor had been a big fan of the band, attended shows and networked his way into becoming part of it. Connor made sure to add, “I’m actually not creepy.”

Jordan summarizes what the band enjoys the most about what they do. “I love to just play the shows- everywhere. That’s the best part. You get to play every single night- it’s awesome! Going back to cities we’ve been to and made friends, hangout with these people for a night.” The band enjoys being part of peoples’ weekend plans.

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Shark vs. Bear

Next up, the guys next chime in on who they think would win in a fight: a shark or a bear.

Jordan: “Shark”

Dan: “I have like a really big fear of sharks. They just disturb me. Their whole body is just a huge disgusting, killing muscle. It just looks so gross and strong.”

Connor: “They’re like engineered, natural predators.”

Dan: “They’re demons of the sea.”

Connor follows up with an in-depth flashback of an encounter with sharks while on a family trip to Hawaii, which puts their immediate answer of sharks into perspective.

Me: What if the fight was on land?

Jordan: “I’m still going to say sharks, man.”

Jack: “Regardless of where I am, if I see a shark, my first instinct is not going to be to get closer.”

Jordan: “Bears probably realize that too.”

Jack: “I just saw The Revenant and I’ll still give it to the shark.”

Jordan: “Oh, I still want to see that.”

(Note: Frankie Teardrop needs a date to the movies this weekend.)

To conclude the interview, Jordan adds, “I love getting to play shows. I love college people, students at college.” Jordan then also offers up some life advice. “In general, just be nice to your fellow humans. You got into the world, so try and pack something into the stream of life and be a nice person. Be of service to your fellow creature, be unselfish.”

Frankie Teardrop thanks UW-Stout, along with Blue Devil Productions for hosting.

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Kelfies Are a Thing

Annalise Mark“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the good burger, can I take your order?” is a phrase that resonates with the kids of the 90s. It was said by Kel Mitchell, who is best known as the co-star of Nickelodeon’s “Kenan and Kel,” “All That” and the movie “Good Burger.” 

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Last night, Blue Devil Productions hosted the very man himself for a free comedy show in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.  

The line of people waiting to get into the show extended from the Great Hall past the ballrooms and downstairs, well into Huff’s Lounge. Blue Devil Productions estimated that nearly 500 UW-Stout students attended. Everyone was beyond excited to reminisce about their childhood memories of the actor who starred in the shows they grew up watching.  

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Prior to the show, I was working behind the scenes with BDP to get event volunteers in order and lastminute details triple-checked, along with ensuring Kel was ready to go. When Kel and his road manager strolled backstage for the first time, they mirrored us with big smiles and warm welcomes.  

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When 8:05 p.m. rolled around, Kel burst through the side doors in the Great Hall, danced around the crowd and high-fived everyone within an arms length. Kel’s act was filled with Good Burger references, jokes about things college students could relate to and material that required audience participation. 

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Even with nearly 500 people in attendance, Kel wanted to meet everyone after the show and take a “Kelfie,” or a selfie with Kel. And without a doubt, nearly everyone flew out of their seats to get in line to meet the “Good Burger” man. 


The entire Great Hall was filled with smiles, laughter and picture-taking the entire night. Everyone I have spoke
n to agrees this comedy show was one for the books.  

I’m proud of everyone who made this event a success.

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Chicago trip with Stout Retail

Annalise MarkLast semester, I had the chance to travel to Chicago with the Stout Retail Association (SRA). I’m not a retail major, but I still had a lot of fun exploring Chicago and learning information that was relevant to me as a business major.

Our first stop was the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) where we were given a tour by Trideep Das, CFI’s business director. Later, we were also introduced to Andrea Reynders, CFI’s design director. Both individuals were passionate and interested in helping bring designers’ visions to life.

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CFI is all about mentoring a select group of fashion designers for two years at a time; helping them develop their entrepreneurial skills while they develop a clothing line, with the goal of making it retail-worthy. To me, it felt like a rigorous, educational version of what I imagine the show Project Runway to be like, minus the competitive eliminations every week.

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They have a really cool program there. I seriously wish I could operate a sewing machine and so I would at least have some chance to experience it. I did meet a CFI student who started out as an accountant, so I suppose anything’s possible! I highly suggest you take a look at their website if anything about CFI sparks your interest. It could be your next big opportunity!

Our next stop was Koastal Konnection, one of the Midwest’s leading clothing wholesalers, located in the Merchandise Mart Plaza. In my business classes, we always learn about the idea distribution channels and how wholesalers fit into the process, but I’ve never been able to visualize wholesalers as brick and mortar businesses. As consumers we  only get to see the retailer, so it was enlightening for me to connect the dots and understand the process more.

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The showroom that we crowded into, was only about twice the size of a dorm room. The room it was filled wall to wall with racks sorted and arranged with shirts, dresses, jeans and belts. I wish that room was my closet!

After a lunch break, we headed to our last stop, Groupon Headquarters. The corporate atmosphere was different from anything I could have imagined. A statement from Groupon explains it all. “Plenty of things in life are pretty ho-hum, so we aim to provide an escape from the everyday grind. In our quest to liven things up, we infuse excitement, newness and unpredictability into everything we do- from our offers and shopping experience to our office space and workday.”

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Yes, there was a giant cat in a giant space ship.

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Not really sure the purpose of this particular element, but it’s memorable and funny, so that’s a good enough reason to have it.

They have some swings in the middle of the room.

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Also, they have this thing called “The Pit.”

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It’s about a three feet deep, by five foot wide tub that looks like a hallowed out tree stump that it’s filled entirely with candy. It was the end of the week, so it was a little low when we got there (understandably).

It’s a way to get people away from their desks and socializing with other employees. One rule: you can’t just grab and go with the candy.

Groupon is a start-up and hasn’t been around for that long, but they’re already making a splash on the retail world. What they do can seem complex, but long story short, they basically bring all of the retail sales and deals together in one place for consumers to take advantage of anywhere in the world.

My next goal based on this tour: get a sales internship at Groupon.

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Friday wrapped up nicely. I ate some Chicago style deep dish, did some shopping; along with exploring the city and trying to figure out why the streets outside of our hotel smelled like chocolate chip cookies (I was unsuccessful).

Saturday was a free day and 100 percent of the people who were on the trip used it for shopping. Who could blame them? They’re retail majors, so it only makes sense.

I learned a lot from this trip and I wish it could have been longer, but we made the most of the days that we were there.

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See ya again soon, Chicago!

And thank you, Stout Retail Association!

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